Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Nirvana

Thursday December 31st, 2009 - Eau Claire, WI

New Year’s Eve can be very unpredictable for entertainers. It’s usually a night when the pay is good enough to lure us into situations we normally wouldn’t consider. Tim Slagle’s view sums it up best. He says he’s a whore 364 nights a year, but on New Year’s Eve he’s a call girl. If someone wants to hire his services then, it’s going to cost them a premium.

I tend to agree with him. I’ve had some hellacious New Year’s Eve gigs in the past, and I learned early on that night is in a class by itself. It truly is amateur night. People who’ve never run entertainment shows try to put them on for other people who don’t normally go out to see live entertainment. Then they charge beyond top dollar, and usually can get it.

Most times in my experience there are two or even three shows on New Year’s Eve, and they’re all pretty typical. The early show(s) are usually pretty tight because people are out for the evening and will be somewhere else when the stroke of midnight hits. The money show is the late one. That’s the one they charge the most for, and it’s the most difficult.

Many times the venue passes out noisemakers before the show, and that’s a big red flag in my book. If one drunk starts tooting on his horn it starts a chain reaction and can get to be a nasty situation in a matter of seconds. Most people don’t think before they do it, and I’ve had that blow up in my face more than I want to remember. It’s impossible to go on.

The smart way to do it is end the comedy show 10-15 minutes before midnight and pass out all the noisemakers, hats and champagne, and get everyone to do a big toast and count down from 10 at midnight. That’s the correct way to do it, but rarely does that get done. It usually gets mishandled and it’s frustrating and humiliating. Comedy is rarely the focus.

That’s why most seasoned comedians I know ask for a lot more money to go out and be treated like a rented mule on New Year’s Eve. We know what to expect because we’ve all had to deal with it at one time or another, and it’s up to each one of us if we want to do it.

I’ve made a deal with myself that I’m either going to keep it close to home or get a good payday if I’m going to do a New Year’s Eve anymore, and this year I got an offer to go up to Eau Claire, WI and work a water park hotel complex called Metropolis. I’m glad I did. From top to bottom it was a treat from the shows to the staff to the comics to the room.

This was one of the best New Year’s Eves I’ve ever had. The place is only about a year old and it’s gorgeous. Wild Bill did it last year and they apparently did well with him and wanted to do comedy again. He asked me and it worked out perfectly. This was a blast on many levels, as was the last gig I did for him a few months ago. He’s treats comics right.

The staff was totally on the ball and very nice and both shows had audiences that didn’t resemble typical shows I’ve seen in the past. They were polite and great laughers and the whole experience was positive. It feels good to head into 2010 on a high note with a few bucks in my pocket and two hot shows. Plus, I didn’t have to kiss any fat drunken slobs.

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